Friday, March 11, 2011
Time for U.S. to protect Christians
In the wake of increased violence and targeted discrimination against Christians in countries like Egypt, Iraq, and Pakistan, a U.S. congressman has introduced legislation that calls for a special envoy to protect religious minorities.
At least 70 people were killed last October during a siege on Our Lady of Salvation Church in Baghdad, marking the worst massacre of Iraqi Christians since 2003. Also, a televised broadcast of Afghans being baptized resulted in the arrest of four Christians last August. And during the recent uprising in Egypt, Muslims reportedly attacked two Christian families and left 11 believers dead, including children.
In response to such violence, Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) is asking Congress to consider intervention from the U.S. State Department on behalf of those who may be confronted by religious persecution in the Near East and South Central Asia.
He notes the United States' efforts in Iraq, but points out that "50 percent of the Christian community has been forced out, living in ghettos in Damascus...Lebanon and Jordan." But though they are getting no help from the U.S. government, "there's almost a silence."
However, he acknowledges that advocacy is not simply up to the government.
"I also think it's important for the Church in the West to advocate for the Christian minorities in the Middle East," so he encourages believers to "contact their congressmen and contact their senators and urge them to support this effort to create a special envoy in our government so there's somebody who can advocate...within our government; [so] there will be somebody at the table. But also, [so] there will be somebody who can advocate with regard to the foreign governments."
Last year, the Pew Forum released a report on global restrictions on religion, finding that "nearly 70 percent of the world's 6.8 billion people live in countries with high restrictions on religion."